Monday, February 16, 2009

The Gate of Heaven

Quist said no matter what the pricks do to you don’t let it ‘color your outlook on life.’ Okay, so I give up peanut butter and tear up my Fidelity statement, put on my coat and take a hike down by the lake. So many limbs down and the meltin’ ice makin’ that low sighing sound. Crows talking amongst themselves like effing Jesuits. A dead squirrel down by the canoe rack. I came here to find some peace and quiet, get away from the garbage trucks and sirens down in the city. Quist said don’t fool yourself, the garbage trucks and sirens are inside you, man. Another thimbleful of Jameson’s wisdom.

There’s a bend in Lakeshore Road they call Breezy Point where the power lines went down and Cholly’s F-150 got totaled by a big branch. I thought maybe he’d be out in the front yard rearranging firewood but the yellow caution tape is still up. He was a pipefitter somewhere down in Newark, lost his job last summer. Must be Rosemary came by with her Saturn and the two of ‘em took off. They won’t go far, they like it here, even if they can’t afford the heating oil any more.

Me I can barely pay for my propane. Want to keep the pipes unfroze, got to pay the man. January was cold, went through a cord of hardwood like that. Who was it said peace and quiet’ll cost you?

The other day before the storm pelted us with ice they delivered my books. Remnants from a previous life, can’t tell yet whether it was good karma or bad karma. Or maybe no karma at all. Twenty-six boxes. Books as souvenirs: hey, remember me, remember what I used to be. Sweet Lou once took a look at all the books in my house and said, “What good are books when you can’t afford a decent meal?” And he’s no philistine, he used to be a driver for The Times. Eighty-one and still does forty-five minutes on the treadmill every morning before lighting up a cigar and heading down to the social club. “What good are books when people over in the projects are starving?”

I ast myself, “What color is my outlook on life?” Battleship gray these days I guess. But that’s only half the story. Every coin has two sides, every Janus has two faces, and even Hamlet’s got some yucks in it. Tell me, is the Gate of Heaven open or closed, poot? They used to keep it open in times of war, but I don’t see too many people going through, do you?

The lake glistens in the sun. Quist was right when he said, “You feel like kickin’ a dog, take a walk instead. It’ll do you good.”

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